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Misi Kami Peduli (MKP) 2016, Mission We Care, was a community service expedition organized by Indonesian students at the National University of Singapore. As part of the MKP 2016 team, I travelled to Desa Tambakrejo, a rural village in East Java, Indonesia in Dec 2016.
It was a fulfilling journey for me and my team as we had the opportunity to contribute to the well-being of the people of Desa Tambakrejo, make positive social impact to the community, and also to share good practices in environmental awareness.
Walking the journey of giving and sharing together with the local community was an unforgettable experience. With our partner organisation, Yayasan Bhakti Alam Sendang Biru, MKP 2016 hoped to strengthen the management of ecotourism, bring out the potential of the village, and ultimately improve the quality of life of the local residents.
During the trip, we worked with the residents to construct a 400-metre long road and initiated the programme “Setapak Jejak Untuk Konservasi” (“A Step towards Conservation”). This programme aimed to improve the eco-tourism experience in CMC Tiga Warna region through better infrastructure. Another meaningful project was installing a solar-powered cooker to encourage local residents to embrace greener technology.
My most treasured moments during the trip were the ones I spent with the children. The children were boisterous in their welcome. I especially enjoyed playing games with them and facilitating creative activities for them. With the hopes of inspiring them to dream big and embrace technology, we conducted a few science experiments such as volcano eruption and line follower. At the end of the activities, the children’s creations spoke volumes about who they are and their dreams. Their passion to learn, despite the limited resources they have, was heartening.
An unforgettable moment happened while we were trekking to plant mangrove and transplant and coral reefs. Despite the slippery soil conditions and the swamps that we had to pass through, the children demonstrated a commendable spirit of “leaving no one behind.” It was really heart-warming. This experience has made me reflect on many things we often take for granted.
With the focus on tackling the lack of people with trained expertise to support ecotourism, we had an important goal of empowering the people of Desa Tambakrejo with practical skills.
MKP 2016 conducted online marketing and branding for the organisation and English language training to the tour guide. We also worked closely with our partner, Yayasan Bhakti Alam Sendang Biru, in developing their website and helped them in strengthening their branding through constructing two selfie corners, one landmark at the entrance and a swing near the beach.
My main takeaway from this trip is that it was a learning opportunity for both parties. Our team imparted what we learnt to the children, skills to the community, while the villagers taught us the appreciation for simpler things in life. The friendships forged between the community and us through the journey of giving and sharing, was definitely an eventful moment.
On behalf of the entire organising team, I want to express our gratitude to Tanoto Foundation, founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Mr Sukanto Tanoto, for sharing our passion for the people of Indonesia and for supporting this project.
Editor’s Note: This guest blog was contributed by Steven Nilam, an Indonesian student currently pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial & Systems Engineering at the National University of Singapore.